Augusta Prep stadium lights approved

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The Cavaliers of Augusta Preparatory Day School will get to play football under lights this fall, if a Tuesday vote by the Columbia County Commission withstands a challenge.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to allow lights at Augusta Prep's athletic field, against the wishes of many vocal residents of the neighboring Springlakes subdivision.

But that decision could be affected by the outcome of a Monday hearing before the county zoning board in which some Springlakes residents intend to challenge the commission's right to take up the issue.

Commissioners voted 3-1 in May to deny the zoning change that would allow the private school on Flowing Wells Road to erect four light posts at the field and expand stadium seating.

The commission sided with Springlakes residents, who complained the night football games would generate too much light and noise pollution.

Since then, the Springlakes homeowners' association and Augusta Prep officials worked out a deal to proceed with the zoning revision so long as seating is limited to 490 and night events are limited to 10 each school year. The agreement also prevents Augusta Prep from seeking further changes to its field for at least three years.

Other stipulations of the zoning revision included no team practices using lights; landscape buffers must be maintained; and lights must be out by 10:30 p.m. except for instances of overtime or injury delays.

"Nobody gets everything they want," Commissioner Ron Thig­pen said of the compromise.

Still, many Springlakes residents opposed the compromises made by the homeowners' association.

"This is just a public relations campaign," Springlakes resident Dean Thompson told commissioners. "Please don't be misled by the so-called compromise."

Though the commission voted in favor of Augusta Prep this time, Springlakes homeowners have another card to play.

Thompson, a former chairman of the planning commission, filed an appeal of the zoning board's decision to hear the issue at a recent meeting in which the board recommended approval to commissioners.

Thompson argues that county ordinances stipulate that the planning commission can't consider zoning changes until at least six months after a denial.

That six-month wait requirement doesn't apply to plan revisions or special districts, county attorney Doug Batchelor said before Tuesday's meeting. Augusta Prep is in a special district.

The planning commission will hear the appeal at 6 p.m. Monday in the auditorium of the Columbia County Government Center on Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans.

Thigpen said he hoped Tues­day's vote ended the "plain old ugliness" generated by the controversy and that both sides can move forward with a more cooperative spirit.

Along with Commissioners Charles Allen and Bill Morris, Thigpen approved the rezoning. Commission Chairman Ron Cross and Commissioner Trey Allen, a Springlakes resident, voted against it.

Though on the losing side of the vote, Allen said he is encouraged by language in the agreement that requires the Springlakes Neighborhood Association officers and Augusta Prep officials to meet every six months to discuss their issues.

"That simple dialogue is the true victory here," Allen said, adding that such regular meetings might have stopped this conflict before it started.

Comments (13) Add comment
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marie21
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marie21 08/16/11 - 09:03 pm
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I'm so glad they voted to

I'm so glad they voted to approve the lights. What is more family friendly than a football game at a good school. There are not enough games for these few residents to complain about. The games are not late and really, how many times do these Springlakes folks actually sit outside at night!!!

Pu239
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Pu239 08/16/11 - 09:06 pm
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All my rowdy friends are
Unpublished

All my rowdy friends are coming over ten nights.....r u ready for some FOOTBALL?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 08/16/11 - 09:13 pm
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I mean what could be more fun

I mean what could be more fun than to have a Friday night football game in the neighborhood? Everyone could get behind the team and have a blast. Make it a neighborhood event. Heck, have the school band march through the neighborhood before the game. Have fun, folks. Life is not about shouting, "Get off my grass."

TheArmyWife
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TheArmyWife 08/16/11 - 10:16 pm
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Folks, we desperately need

Folks, we desperately need our youth playing sports and cheering each other on. Community members need a positive reason to come out and gather, please take the opportunity to leave our world better than we found it. Springlake residents, I truly hope that the peaceful enjoyment of your home is not interrupted. If it is, please know that it is for a limited amount of time and for a very good cause!

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 08/16/11 - 11:06 pm
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Riverman1 Well Said.....About

Riverman1 Well Said.....About time they got their lights!

supercub88
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supercub88 08/17/11 - 01:23 am
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CONGRATULATIONS JACK HALL !!

CONGRATULATIONS JACK HALL !!

Dixieman
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Dixieman 08/17/11 - 06:59 am
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It ain't Jack Hall. There is

It ain't Jack Hall. There is a new headmaster.

woodymeister
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woodymeister 08/17/11 - 09:41 am
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Retired Army, You stated "As

Retired Army,
You stated "As a former Forrest Hills resident I can ascertain that many our troubles came from bored youth in Springlakes.". Perhaps you could elaborate on that. Seems a long way to travel just to cause trouble.

My guess is that Springlakes residents do spend time outside at night as was mentioned by Marie21. Perhaps where she lives it isn't safe to do so. And I fail to see how the 6 or 8 member marching band would be exciting for the neighborhood.

As has been the experience the last 2 years, the only crowd noise will probably be from the visitors side of the field - not much to cheer about for the Cavs...

marie21
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marie21 08/17/11 - 03:45 pm
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Woody, my neighborhood is

Woody, my neighborhood is very safe and we love hearing baseball games playing near us. It means kids are out playing and not in front of video games all evening and they aren't in the streets getting in trouble. People need to lighten up and realize Prep hasn't asked for anything unreasonable.

woodymeister
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woodymeister 08/17/11 - 04:04 pm
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When you say lighten

When you say lighten up.....stay with me here....did you make a pun?

marie21
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marie21 08/17/11 - 04:14 pm
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No, not on purpose and maybe

No, not on purpose and maybe that wasn't really polite for me to say that. I just want them to allow children to play at night at Prep.

createyourfuture
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createyourfuture 08/17/11 - 08:17 pm
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Every poster thinks having a

Every poster thinks having a football crowd with noise, parking issues, etc. is great as long as it is NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) Well, it is in mine. I enjoy sitting outdoors, especially in the autumn, when the temperatures are more moderate. And yes, in the autumn a lot of my neighbors are outside, too. On Saturdays, already we hear the crack of pistols at track meets and the cheers of the smaller crowds at these events. Now not only will we have lights, noise, trash, and illegal parkers, but we will have a view of the light poles above the trees, which is the REAL issue. Oh, and games can last until 10:30 or 11:00, which is late at my house. I enjoy a football game as well as anyone, but if I go to a community game, I will go to Evans IF I want. I will be at every home Augusta Prep game, whether I want to or not. Despite the religious fervor of football fans, not everyone enjoys football. Remember, your freedom begins where mine ends. Oh, and if the Marching Band goes by my house, my sprinklers will likely come on and my dogs will be out the door barking.

Riverman1
83537
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Riverman1 08/17/11 - 08:28 pm
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Createyourfuture, so the

Createyourfuture, so the crowds at track meets bother you? All three of them? If the ball accidentally goes in your yard, will you throw it back?

Pu239
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Pu239 08/17/11 - 09:11 pm
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"Oh, and if the Marching Band
Unpublished

"Oh, and if the Marching Band goes by my house, my sprinklers will likely come on and my dogs will be out the door barking." I would hope Scruffy likes riding on the end of that trombone....

Riverman1
83537
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Riverman1 08/17/11 - 09:30 pm
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Pu239...LOL.

Pu239...LOL.

marie21
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marie21 08/17/11 - 09:33 pm
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Who was there first Augusta

Who was there first Augusta Prep or Springlakes subdivision? I truly don't know.

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